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Notable Offseason MLB Team Changes & Impact (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

by Brian Entrekin | @bdentrek | Featured Writer
Feb 9, 2023
Daulton Varsho

New faces in new places are always an offseason focus. However, some offseason transactions carry more fantasy weight than others.

Last week, I dropped an article about some free agent winners and losers. So in this article, my goal is to highlight some of the trades and a few other free agent moves that have a significant fantasy impact.

Some of the trades that have taken place this offseason were pleasant surprises and had some domino effects for fantasy outside of the prominent names involved in the trade. Some players benefit from new ballparks and having better defenses behind them, while players benefit from some improved playing time.

Notable Team Changes and Fantasy Impact (2023 Fantasy Baseball)

Let’s look at some significant fantasy gainers thanks to some offseason transactions.

Daulton Varsho (TOR – C, OF)

Daulton Varsho busted out in his first full season in the bigs with 27 home runs and 16 stolen bases. The power and speed that Varsho produced as a catcher-eligible player were outstanding. Varsho did not hit for an excellent batting average, only .235, but his run and RBI production with the power and speed was quality.

Now, Varsho heads to Toronto and will hit in a better ballpark than his former home at Chase Field. Rogers Centre also bringing the right field fences in should only help Varsho as he had a heavy 54.5% pull rate and 40.4% fly ball rate. Additionally, Varsho brings strong defense to the Jays’ outfield, which should add some fantasy value to the Jays’ pitchers. Varsho may lose catcher eligibility after this season, but his overall fantasy value should improve with his move to Toronto.

Gabriel Moreno (AZ – C)

Gabriel Moreno was one of the top prospects in the Jays’ farm system but was blocked by Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. However, Moreno has found a path to regular playing time with the trade to Arizona. Throughout the minors, Moreno has hit for decent power and batting average with some speed that will be very welcomed at the catcher position.

Carson Kelly is still catching for the DBacks and is a solid defensive catcher, so the full-time job is not Moreno’s. However, he should still find his way to plenty of playing time, more than he would have in Toronto. If Moreno can come out the gate swinging a hot bat, a great first season in Arizona could be in store for Moreno, and his current draft price could be quite a gift.

William Contreras (MIL – C)

William Contreras played in 97 games last season, the most in his young career, and he brought all the fantasy goodness. Contreras hit 20 home runs with a .278 batting average. His power was backed up by some outstanding quality-of-contact metrics that consisted of a 13.4% barrel rate and 46.6% hard-hit rate.

The main thing holding Contreras back was sharing the catching position with Travis d’Arnaud. Sure, Contreras played DH a lot but having to share the catching duties held back some fantasy upside. Now that he is in Milwaukee, Contreras is the leading man behind the dish, and that should result in well over 120 games played. The batting average may fall back this season, but the power numbers and run production should take another leap forward with being traded to Milwaukee.

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Jesse Winker (MIL – OF)

Jesse Winker was once a popular fantasy target while playing in Great American Small Park, but his fantasy stock dropped significantly last season when he was traded to the Mariners. After one horrible season in Seattle, Winker has been traded to Milwaukee, and his fantasy appeal may improve a bit.

Winker only hit 14 home runs last season while hitting .219, but there were a few positives. He played in 136 games, most of his career, while also walking 15.4% of the time. His barrel and hard-hit rates dropped significantly, but all of his xStats point to Winker potentially being unlucky. However, he now heads to a hitter-friendly ballpark in Milwaukee, and a change in scenery can bring some fantasy goodness back to Winker.

Zach Eflin (TB – SP)

After mediocre success with the Phillies, Zach Eflin is heading to Tampa Bay by signing the largest free agent deal in team history. Eflin has gone back and forth between the bullpen and starting for the Phillies but will be penciled into the Rays rotation for 2023.

Eflin will leave a very hitter-friendly ballpark in Philadelphia to one of the best pitching ballparks in Tampa Bay. The change of scenery is enough for a fantasy boost, but the Rays also know how to maximize their pitchers and need Eflin to eat some innings. I would not be shocked to see Eflin’s ERA in the high threes with 10+ wins by the end of the season.

Jean Segura (MIA – 2B)

In recent years, Jean Segura has not been a flashy fantasy target but a very reliable one, as he hits for a strong batting average with double-digit home runs and steals. While hitting near the top of the Phillies lineup, he would also score plenty of runs. As he heads to Miami, the great offensive environment is behind him, so yes, that is a bummer. But there is something to really like with Segura in Miami.

He should still hit near the top of the batting order, and with Jazz Chisholm, Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler hitting behind him, he will still score plenty of runs. Segura should still score plenty of bases as well. But the best part of Segura heading to Miami is that he’ll play 3B and gain MI/CI eligibility early in the season. With 3B being a mess for fantasy, Segura will earn a nice fantasy boost.

Pablo Lopez (MIN – SP)

Pablo Lopez being traded to the Twins has mostly stayed the same as his fantasy appeal for me. The fantasy impact that I love about Lopez getting traded is a starting rotation spot opening up in Miami. For now, Trevor Rogers will jump into the rotation, which is tempting based on his success in ending the season. But the primary target for me is Braxton Garrett. Garrett had a 3.58 ERA in 17 starts last season with a 24.1% strikeout rate. Garrett will get his chance this season, and you should be ready to roster him. Lopez leaving may expedite that chance for Garrett.

Andrew Benintendi (CHW – OF)

Andrew Benintendi had an up-and-down fantasy season last year with only five home runs and eight steals, but he hit .304. He also lowered his strikeout rate to a career-best 14.8%. In the past, Benintendi showcased much more power with double-digit stolen base skills. Now he heads to Chicago to a hitter-friendly park and part of an excellent lineup. I would not be surprised to see a 15/15 season with a .280+ batting average playing with the White Sox.

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